UK Government urged to drive building efficiency improvements

The UK Government needs to do more to improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s building stock, according to a group of leading organisations in the construction, heat and energy efficiency markets.

In a letter to Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 30 firms including Arup and Kingfisher urged the Government to enact new polices to encourage householders to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes.

They highlighted the fact that over 40% of all energy in the UK is used to heat buildings, and argued that building efficiency is one of the weakest areas of Government policy to tackle climate change.

“Research consistently suggests that reducing energy demand from our homes is one of the most cost effective ways to meet the UK’s 2050 carbon target,” the letter stated. “Taking a ‘fabric-first’ approach to decarbonising heat, where cost effective, will also provide many co-benefits to society in terms of healthcare costs, fuel poverty, jobs, energy security and economic productivity. Because of these benefits, energy efficiency should be designated an infrastructure investment priority for the UK.”

The letter, which was coordinated by WWF, said that the Government’s forthcoming Clean Growth Plan for reducing carbon emissions should include a long-term target for all homes to have an energy performance rating of C or above by 2035.

Under a European Union directive, all new buildings must be “nearly zero energy” by 2020 and the companies said the UK must incorporate similar standards into UK law after Brexit.

“This would ensure that we do not face costly retrofit in future years and create certainty for industry,” they explained.

Additionally, the letter proposed the introduction of minimum standards on efficiency for existing homes, enforced at the point of sale and backed up by incentives (for example, implemented through council tax or stamp duty) as well as grants and zero interest loans.

The letter also called for the Government to support the growth of district heat networks and installation of electric heat pumps in buildings off the gas grid.

“Building these measures into the Clean Growth Plan will be good for the environment and good for the British economy,” the letter concluded.

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